IMO responds to Medical Council warning on prescribing of sedatives

19 Sep 2019

Thursday 19 September 2019. The Irish Medical Organisation has said that GPs are acutely aware of the dangers and difficulties in prescribing benzodiazepines and other sedatives. Dr. Padraig McGarry, President of the IMO (who is a GP himself), was responding to comments on the matters from the Medical Council who warned about the danger of overprescribing such drugs.


Speaking today, Dr. McGarry said that the comments from the Medical Council were welcome and would generate an important debate on the issue. 


He said; “These are important drugs which can play a critical role in the treatment of patients facing acute anxiety issues. However GPs have to navigate an often difficult path between what a patient needs and what that patient may believe they need and this can lead to tension in the relationship between GPs and patients when a GP is not willing to prescribe these drugs. Every GP will be familiar with tense exchanges with patients who believe they should be prescribed such drugs and in some cases that can escalate to threatening behaviour.” 


Dr. McGarry said GPs often have to weigh up the reality that alternative treatments for conditions such as anxiety may take a number of weeks to access during which time the patient’s condition is worsening and in other circumstances a prescription of a sedative may be warranted as an initial intervention while the patient begins alternative therapies.


Dr. McGarry said that GPs were also sensitive to the danger of overuse of a sedative requiring increases in dosage as a patient becomes more tolerant of the drug; “from the outset GPs will set out a plan as to how these drugs might be prescribed and used by the patient in question and in any such plan there should be discussion around alternatives and discussion about how long it is envisaged that the patient will use the drugs and so on.”


Issued on behalf of the IMO by Gordon MRM

Ray Gordon

Ph: 087 2417373

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